One of the key areas of consideration in developing the Heat Treating Industry 2020 Vision in 1999 was Processes/ Materials. The work group examining technology issues established targets of interest including improving energy efficiency, reducing process times and production costs and achieving zero distortion and uniformity in heat treated parts. Among the many technology barriers that could prevent meeting these goals were inability to truly characterize materials well enough for modeling, inability to do predictive modeling, lack of knowledge about process tradeoffs, lack of basic understanding of the processes by all concerned and lack of integrated process models.
Heat treating today still is an experience-based art. On the other hand, these process models would serve as the framework for knowledge-based software programs tailored to the needs of heat treaters and product designers, allowing heat treating to function in a scientific, predictive setting. A significant amount of research is being conducted in the modeling/simulation area, which addresses many of the items mentioned above.